NFF: Sports Minister Can Do More For Total Peace | Independent Newspapers Limited
Newsletter subscribe

Slider, SPORT

NFF: Sports Minister Can Do More For Total Peace

Posted: Jan 2, 2016 at 10:33 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Ominous are the signals from a group of stakeholders in Nigerian football to usher in the new year. After the disorder that trailed the elections into the executive committee of the Nigeria Football Federation in 2014 and the resolution of the disputes through the courts and arbitration, the group led by Mr. Chris Giwa, proprietor of Giwa FC of Jos, has been issuing drumbeats of war with threat as conveyed in their several statements to crash in and seize the secretariat of the NFF, ostensibly to recover an nonexistent or, at best, moribund mandate.

Observers are worried that this orchestration of a needless disruption of the peace and an unjustified distraction of the the flow with which the NFF has achieved commendable progress in the past one year.

Like a bolt from the blues, they are coming after 14 months of the conclusive resolution of the disputes that trailed the elections into the executive board of the NFF in 2014 to present a claim on the NFF to the new minister of sports. Thereafter, they said they held a meeting in the name of board of the NFF.

Curiously, a statement was issued falsely in the name of the minister of sports demanding that the existing board of the NFF should vacate the secretariat for them, ostensibly in respect for an unknown court order affirming their mandate,  Though the minister dissociated his office from the statement, and has further cautioned the Giwa group against any attempt to disrupt the peace, the public is still left with the impression that the group is taking inordinate advantage of the minister being from same Plateau State as Mr. Giwa.

A connect is provided in the recall of similar scheming under the former minister, Tammy Danagogo, who seemed in 2014 to support the same end apparently in deference to Felix Obuah, the chairman of Rivers PDP, and other of his kinsmen who also teamed up with Giwa. Questions have been raised as to why the new minister could really declare in his statements that there is a “lingering crisis” and “warring factions” in the NFF where in every sense there are none.

Curious still is the audacity with which a statement as weighty as calling for a substitution of the board of the NFF could be issued falsely in the name of the minister of sports when the Honourable Minister never authorized such.  More troubling is even  the phrases employed by the minister in his denial suggesting that a dispute exists and also without interrogating and sanctioning those persons who impersonated and attempted to desecrate his office.

The minister ought to have done more than disassociating him,self from those who impersonated him for such was not only dirty and dangerous but also capable of smearing his image. It needs to be restated for the benefit of the public that the Giwa matter was conclusively resolved at both the Federal High Court in Jos and at the Court of Arbitration in Sports.

In the first instance, the Giwa group represented by Yahaya Adama and Obinna Ogba filed their case at the Federal High Court, Jos in October 2014 and got an interim order from the court purporting to nullify the NFF election of Warri held 30th September, pending the hearing of the substantive case. The order was given in the absence of NFF in court. FIFA duly frowned at this and asked Nigeria to ensure they withdrew the case or be automatically banned by November 2014. Former President Goodluck Jonathan intervened to urge them to withdraw the suit and seek redress for whatever grouse through institutionalised football procedures.

They duly went to court to file a notice of withdrawal/discontinuation and the Justice A. Lewis-Allagoa duly ruled on October 30, 2014 by striking out the matter and giving an order quashing all previous orders arising from the case including the purported dissolution of the NFF elected board in Warri.

The very words of the ruling is as follows:

“Upon this suit coming up today for ruling, H. S. Adizard of counsel to the Plaintiffs with S. D. Ekara informed the court that they want to withdraw the matter in the national interest. To that effect, they have filed a notice of discontinuance dated the 30th day of October, 2014…

“It is hereby ruled as follows: 1. That pursuant to order 50 rules 2 of the Federal High Court Rule 2009, the Plaintiff having withdrawn this suit. All orders made previously including the dissolution of the executive committee/board of the Nigerian Football Federation vide the order of this honourable Court dated 23rd day of October 2014 seizes to have life and this matter stands struck out…”

In the second instance, the Giwa group claiming to the board of the NFF had first approached the CAS in 2014 seeking an injunction to stop FIFA from banning Nigeria in reaction to their suit in Jos and their forceful seizure of the NFF secretariat, and substantively to upturn FIFA’s decision disqualifying their purported election and letter endorsing the Amaju Pinnick election.

Having withdrawn their case and vacated the NFF secretariat, the CAS saw no need to grant the injunction. The substantive case was ruled upon on May 18, 2015 with Mr. Giwa personally present in court. The very words of the CAS ruling as delivered by Massimo Coccia are as follows:

“1. The appeal filed by the Nigeria Football Federation against FIFA decision of 29 August 2014 (not to recognize the purported Giwa election of August 26, 2014) is dismissed.

The appeal filed by the Nigeria Football Federation against the FIFA letter of 1 October 2014 (endorsing the election of the Amaju Pinnick board held on September 30, 2014) is dismissed.

The cost of the present arbitration shall be borne entirely by the Nigeria Football Federation

The Nigeria Football Federation shall contribute CHF 8,000 towards FIFA’s legal fees and expenses incurred in connection with these proceedings

All other  or further requests or motions  by the parties are dismissed.”

With the foregoing, it is clear that the dispute was sufficiently and conclusively thrashed in both the regular courts and and the judicial institutions of sports. The question is ‘what again?’ and the advice to let peace reign and let no persons drag and distract the concentration of the Honourable Minister from more noble pursuits.

Fred Edoreh is Editor, Sports Talk Africa and Chairman, Lagos SWAN